1995 Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Mario Molina Honored by Google Doodle
Dr. Mario Molina, a Mexican chemist who successfully convinced governments to work together to save the planet’s ozone layer has been honored by Google Doodle. Molina died of a heart attack at the age of 77 in 2020.
Dr. Molina, a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995, was one of the researchers who discovered how chemicals deplete the Earth’s ozone shield, which is critical for protecting humans, plants, and wildlife from harmful ultraviolet light.
For years, chemicals in hair spray and refrigerators wreaked havoc on the ozone layer, the protective shroud that protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. However, it wasn’t until 1974 that people began to take notice.
In that year, Mexican scientist Mario Molina published a study demonstrating that chlorofluorocarbons, which are widely used in refrigerator coolants, spray paint, deodorant sprays, and other aerosol products, were depleting the ozone layer. The consequences were dire, because without the ozone layer to shield us from the sun, our planet would be uninhabitable. His work influenced global environmental policy.
Google dedicated its Doodle to Molina on the Nobel Prize-winning scientist’s 80th birthday to honour his pioneering efforts to combat an environmental disaster.
Dr. Mario Molina was a recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was one of the researchers who exposed how chemicals deplete Earth’s ozone shield
Dr. Mario Molina, who was born in Mexico City on March 19, 1943, was drawn to science at a young age, converting a bathroom in his home into a makeshift laboratory for his chemistry sets.
“I was already fascinated by science before entering high school,” Dr. Mario Molina wrote in his Nobel biography. “I recall how excited I was when I first looked at paramecia and amoebae through a rather primitive toy microscope.”
Molina returned to Mexico after being sent to a Swiss boarding school at the age of 11 to study chemical engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico before earning a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1972.
President Barack Obama bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Dr. Mario Molina in 2013, the highest civilian honour in the United States
Molina discovered that CFCs in the upper atmosphere could be broken down by ultraviolet radiation, releasing chlorine atoms that destroyed ozone molecules a year later while working with F. Sherwood Rowland of the University of California at Irvine.
In 1974, their findings were published in the journal Nature.
Their findings were criticized by industries that rely on CFCs, with one executive claiming that the pair’s theory was “orchestrated by the Ministry of Disinformation of the KGB.” However, British scientists discovered a massive hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica in 1985.
This discovery prompted governments all over the world to sign the Montreal Protocol in the 1980s to phase out the use of ozone-depleting substances. The agreement was dubbed “the most successful international effort to combat climate change and environmental degradation” by Science magazine.
Molina and Rowland shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 with Paul J. Crutzen of the Max Planck Institute in Germany. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in announcing the award that the researchers “have contributed to our salvation from a global environmental problem that could have catastrophic consequences.”
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